There are many qualities that make a good contact centre agent. Here are some of the most important ones that can make or break your BPO career!
One of the most important qualities of a good contact centre agent is how you treat customers. This might sound obvious, but being polite and friendly is essential since most customers can immediately sense a negative or lazy attitude. When a customer is having trouble with a product, for instance, getting condescending or confrontational treatment from an agent will only exacerbate the problem and reflect poorly on all companies represented.
Plus, you never know who’s on the other line. That’s why it’s so important that agents are committed to being warm and friendly throughout the duration of every call.
A big challenge at any job is leaving personal issues at the door. Everyone has a bad day, but when you let those feelings interfere with the ability to do your job it can cause chaos. Since call centre agents are constantly dealing with customers of all dispositions, a lack of professionalism can quickly send an interaction off the rails.
There may be days when an agent repeatedly gets connected with irate customers hurling abuse out of sheer frustration. This can be highly stressful and how you handle the situation will determine whether or not you’ll ultimately be successful at the job.
In all cases, an agent must be empathetic, respectful and understand that making an attempt to correct a problem is often the last thing an annoyed customer wants. Staying calm under pressure and handling the customer’s requests and questions in the face of adversity is one of the most-valuable contact centre skills.
Agents that work in a busy call center need to be very organized. They need to be able to juggle multiple tasks at once (i.e., checking the knowledge base, updating the CRM and taking notes in your helpdesk), all while attending to the customer’s needs. Staying organized helps reduce errors and help customers more effectively.
While contact centre agents are often directed to stay on-script, inevitably a problem will arise that hasn’t been covered in training sessions. It’s during these moments that it’s critical an agent can think independently. That doesn’t mean attempting to solve the issue alone. Often, it’s as simple as knowing when to ask for a manager’s assistance.
Staying calm under pressure
A good call center agent isn’t easily flustered. When a caller is angry or frustrated, an agent’s job is to be the exact opposite. Staying calm while dealing with frustrated callers on a daily basis is not easy. It takes self-discipline and maturity. A good agent must keep calm when someone is shouting at them over the phone and also when they have a chatty caller on the other end of the line who won’t let them get a word in edgewise. Keeping your cool throughout all of these situations and not letting the frustrated callers get to you personally will get any you far in the industry.
The ability to recall information quickly is one of the most underrated contact centre skills. Agents are constantly being asked to study and memorise many different aspects of a particular product or service. They also need to learn the correct procedures to serve the customer. Some of this knowledge can be acquired over time, but it helps if you already have the knack to recall critical information immediately.
Call centre agents need to show a ‘can-do attitude’ to serve a customer – no matter how pressure-filled or complex the situation. This trait may not come naturally to everyone, but it can be learned, and it becomes easier with experience. Don’t give up. Building self-confidence is an important life skill!
For all the training a contact centre provides, it can’t force you to take pride in your work. That sense of self-determination must be an intrinsic part of your personality. Self-motivated workers are always open to feedback, learning and trying to push themselves to be better.
Due to the on-demand nature of the work, many contact centres are unable to offer traditional, 9-to-5 shifts for employees. Call centre companies must be able to count on the fact that their staff will regularly show up when scheduled, whatever the time of day or night. And during those hours, they must also be able to rely on their agents to remain calm under pressure, stay productive and handle as many calls as necessary. Anything less just won’t cut it.
An agent should be able to handle a chatty customer one moment and an angry customer the next. They should be able to roll with the punches and let the bad stuff slide off of them with ease (after providing a solution, of course). In addition, you may also need to work challenging hours: holidays, nights and weekends. Flexibility is key.